Former Gaëlle, current Olympian Julie-Anne Staehli slows down to catch up with ‘The Journal’

Even with years of victories and success under her belt, the numbers are only half the story for Olympian and Queen’s alumnus Julie-Anne Staehli.

A native of Lucknow, Ont., Staehli raced cross country and track and field for Queen’s from 2012 to 2016.

Despite obtaining her degree in Health Studies, she was in a class of her own when it came to her performance.

Throughout her tenure as Gael, Staehli became the first Queen’s athlete to receive five consecutive U Sports Canadian All-Star honors. In her first season, she was named U Sports Rookie of the Year and she was also an OUA star for each of her five seasons in the Golden Gael jersey.

A medalist, Staehli has been on the podium 12 times at the OUA and National levels in her five years as a student athlete. In 2013, she won the title of MVP of U Sports after placing first in the national championship.

Reflecting on the career of his queen in an interview with The newspaper, Staehli said it was a time when she could make mistakes and learn the hard lessons of her sport – she looks back on those years with humility and tenderness.

“I think it’s quite unique to have that period in your life where you’re around 18 to 24 years old.[s] old [and] you can travel on weekends and watch races, ”she said.

“I just absorbed it all.”

From a development perspective, Queen’s was the starting point for Staehli’s racing career. His success as Gaël planted the seed for what first became a figurative and then literal race at the Olympics.

“In college, of course, that’s when you start to meet more elite athletes and get the chance to travel, train and go to different places,” she declared.

“That kind of opens those doors.”

After completing his undergraduate studies, Staehli followed his passion for education and earned a Masters in Sports Psychology from the Queen’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies.

Her research has focused on how college coaches can orchestrate the success of a student-athlete, an area in which she has direct experience and something she hopes to continue to explore in her future career.

“I think a lot of what happened was just the resources and the support, and how we deal with the stress of this student-athlete lifestyle,” she explained.

Much of Staehli’s own success has been shaped by Steve Boyd, the former Queen’s cross country head coach and Staehli’s personal mentor for the past decade.

Looking back, she remembers a piece of advice Boyd gave her years ago that resonates with her to this day.

“I think maybe my third or fourth year he said to me, ‘I just want you to be healthy and happy and then run fast. In that order, ”she said.

“I think it just saved me then.”

These same words inform Staehli’s own advice for those hoping to run at an elite level.

“I think the big advantage is enjoying it before the success,” she said. “If you love what you do, success will follow. “

When it comes to the Olympics, Staehli said she was on her way to Tokyo 2020 quite unexpectedly during her post-graduate career.

“It was always this thought that I had of ‘Okay that’s possible, but there are definitely a lot of things that need to be put in place for that to happen.'”

After running the 5,000-meter below Olympic standard three times, Staehli learned from Athletics Canada that she had been selected to compete in Tokyo from an Instagram post, among others.

“It was just a wave of emotion because I think everyone has this nervousness, this adrenaline and this excitement and this build-up, it all kind of left me,” she said on finding her selection. .

At the Olympics, Staehli ran the 5,000 meters and placed 17th in her heat, placing just ahead of the top 15 to advance to the final. Staehli said it was difficult to get away from the stadium that day, but she remained proud of her efforts.

“When I got off that track I was proud of the way I played that day. It wasn’t my best time, but it was the best [experience] this [I’d ever] had.”

“One of my roommates gave me some really good advice. She said: ‘Just enter the stadium before you start. Take a moment to figure it all out, because you won’t remember a thing about the race. But you will remember that moment when you walked into this stadium.

Obviously, the lessons learned from running spilled over into other aspects of Staehli’s life. Running has not only taught him how to work hard, stay consistent and have conviction, but also keep his head above water when the going gets tough.

“It’s the essence of running. You go out and you run and then tomorrow you do the same thing and then the next day you go out again, and it just keeps going and it’s happening and figuring out how you’re going to be able to do that, ”she explained.

“I think it translates into any job, any career.”

Staehli, who has been sponsored by New Balance for five years, signed his first professional racing contract with a Boston-based team immediately after this year’s Summer Games. She is currently training with them in the United States as she sets her sights on Paris in 2024.

Immersed in the world of elite racing, Staehli emphasized how crucial it is to see value and worth outside of what’s being done on the track – to have other pieces of life to love. and lean, especially during injuries or mental setbacks.

“No matter how well you perform, your worth as a person doesn’t change your worth. […] At the end of the day, it’s who you are as a person and it has nothing to do with numbers.

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Naomi C. Amerson